Kochs Keep Tossing Bricks at New Yorker Profile

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 1 2010 11:20 AM

Kochs Keep Tossing Bricks at New Yorker Profile

Here's more on the story I published this morning -- a letter that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation is sending around arguing that Jane Mayer's New Yorker profile treated the Kochs unfairly.

"The New Yorker article, and those pieces that have echoed it,rely heavily on innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions," writes foundation president Richard Fink, who is the public face of the brothers' ideological work. "Unnamedsources and those with a strong philosophical opposition to the Kochs -many of whom have no current or first-hand knowledge of KochIndustries, Koch Family Foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch - gounchallenged. Supporters of the Kochs are largely ignored (as evidencedby the fact that the reporter chose not to include the vast majority ofsupportive comments made by a number of people familiar with the Kochsand the organizations they support). On the other hand, those whoreinforce the reporter's preconceptions are given a free pass."

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Fink argues that Mayer treated the Kochs unfairly despite the access she received, but Mayer reports that she didn't get face time with David or Charles. That's the point I'm making -- these attempts to keep the brothers out of the political fray just don't work anymore.

The whole letter:

Dear [name],

You may be aware that Charles and David Koch have been the subjectof a string of critical articles recently, mostly prepared by writersand opinion journalists who are hostile to the market-based principleswe share with you.

Our society and political system are built on the principles of freespeech and dissenting ideas. All Americans have a Constitutional rightto lawfully support, debate and advance public policy issues. Charlesand David Koch have engaged in such activities for more than 40 years.During that time they have voiced concerns with both Republican andDemocrat Presidents and legislators.

Earlier this week, the New Yorker published a lengthy articlecriticizing Charles and David for their longstanding support of coreprinciples - including their belief in individual and economic freedom.The many factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations and misleadingstatements in the article are disappointing - especially coming fromsuch a storied publication.

The New Yorker was provided with a tremendous amount ofinformation in hopes it would enable the publication to produce abalanced and accurate portrayal of Koch Industries, Koch FamilyFoundations, and the many organizations we support. Unfortunately, thatinformation was largely omitted or ignored, resulting in inaccuraciesand misstatements. A catalog of all these errors would take up morespace than the article itself. For a more accurate review of theissues, please go to www.kochfacts.com .

Even the title of the article is a mischaracterization. It accusesthe Kochs of being "covert" in their support of free markets. TheCharles G. Koch Charitable Foundation's and Koch Industries' websites,along with many other publicly available documents, clearly state thephilosophies and institutions we support. Indeed, Koch Industries hasrepeatedly acknowledged that David Koch is Chairman of the Board of theAmericans for Prosperity Foundation. David's participation in a recentAFP event was televised on C-SPAN and reported in several articles.This is hardly a "covert" approach. Allegations of "hidden" or"underground" activities, a recurring theme throughout the article andstories that have followed it, are belied by the extensive publicrecord referenced in them. Meanwhile, the New Yorker quotes numerous unnamed sources to attack the Kochs.

The article also smears the good name of Koch Industries, whosecompanies employ more than 50,000 Americans at hundreds of sites aroundthe country. Those companies and employees have received more than 180environmental and safety honors since President Obama took office. Nomention of those honors - or of Koch's commitment to complying withenvironmental regulations - is included in the article, even thoughKoch Industries provided this information to the publication. Instead,the author asserts that Koch is the tenth-largest "polluter" in thenation. The more accurate and less sensational term is "emissions."Those emissions, which are all regulated and legally permitted, aregenerated by the industrial processes that enable companies to provideAmericans and the world with essential products - including the veryink and paper needed to publish periodicals, such as the New Yorker.

David Koch is a cancer survivor who has donated hundreds of millionsof dollars toward cancer research. The article gives short shrift tohis commitment to supporting medical and scientific research to helpsave lives. Instead, it makes the assertion that David Koch has aconflict of interest regarding the regulation of formaldehyde becausehe sits on the National Cancer Institute's national advisory board. Hisrole on the board has nothing to do with NCI making scientificrecommendations or approvals regarding industrial products. In fact,during his six years on the NCI national cancer advisory board, he hasnever engaged in a discussion of formaldehyde.

Unfortunately, some of those who disagree with a market-based pointof view continue to try to demonize the Kochs' 40 years of unwavering,well-known, lawful and principled commitment to economic freedom andmarket-based policy solutions. The Kochs have steadfastly supported thebenefits of economic freedom, the importance of the rule of law,private property rights, the proper and limited role of government insociety and warned against the perils of excessive government spending.We see escalating efforts to discount and mischaracterize important andauthentic citizen efforts, as well as dismiss and degrade our supportof education and human services programs.

The New Yorker article, and those pieces that have echoed it,rely heavily on innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions. Unnamedsources and those with a strong philosophical opposition to the Kochs -many of whom have no current or first-hand knowledge of KochIndustries, Koch Family Foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch - gounchallenged. Supporters of the Kochs are largely ignored (as evidencedby the fact that the reporter chose not to include the vast majority ofsupportive comments made by a number of people familiar with the Kochsand the organizations they support). On the other hand, those whoreinforce the reporter's preconceptions are given a free pass.

We are all free to disagree and publicly speak our mind. AsAmericans, this is one of our Constitutional rights. What concerns usand what should concern every American is a coordinated effort byanyone - government, media outlet or private citizen - to intimidateand silence people who lawfully challenge and debate government policy.

We are proud to have had the opportunity to partner with you in thecritically important effort to understand and address threats toeconomic freedom and prosperity.  Please know that we will continue toexercise our Constitutional rights of free speech and do all we can toadvance market-based policies that foster greater opportunity forsociety. 

Best wishes,

Rich

Richard Fink
President
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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